Run, Don’t Walk, To Cartagena With Kids

August 16, 2022

Cartgena With Kids Guide

Table of Contents

Trying to decide whether to go to Cartagena with kids? You're in the right place.

Breathe a sigh of relief; we’ve got all the details you need to decide. 

Let’s start with the short answer: We absolutely love Cartagena as a family travel destination. You will not regret taking a trip to Cartagena, Colombia with kids. 

We had one of our best family vacations ever in Cartagena when our daughter was just three years old. We cherish that trip. Cartagena is one of a handful of locations we can’t wait to revisit, perhaps when our children learn Spanish and we want to take them somewhere to practice!

As for where to stay in Cartagena with kids, there are so many gems to choose from! 

The boutique hotels in the walled city are charming, unique, and — best of all — very welcoming of families. No matter which Cartagena family hotel you choose, you have a great vacation ahead of you!

Resources To Plan Your Trip To Cartagena With Kids

Before we dig in, let’s be sure you have our best family travel resources at your fingertips. 

Did you know we have a whole collection of family hotels in the Caribbean – including in Cartagena? I’ll let you in on a secret, it’s sort of our pride and joy. Find the right Caribbean hotel for your family in just a few clicks. 

Wishing someone else would just handle the logistics for a change? We’re here for that too. We specialize in helping busy parents plan unique and authentic Caribbean family trips.  

Now, pour yourself a Limonada De Coco and start dreaming about your adventure to Cartagena…

Travel To Cartagena Colombia With Kids

Cartagena Colombia with Kids: The Basics 

Cartagena may not be top of mind as a Caribbean destination — it’s a colonial city in South America, after all, not an island. But the city is located on Colombia’s coast on the continent’s northwest shore, right on the Caribbean sea. The vibrant colors of the historic old town give way to beaches, turquoise waters, and unique island archipelagos. 

Cartagena’s Fortified Old City is what attracts visitors from far and wide. This walled city is walkable, colorful, and charming, and full of small shops, delicious restaurants, and mansions-turned-hotels. 

If you love a small boutique hotel (and it’s no secret that we do here at Mango Tree), the accommodations in Cartagena will blow you away.  The boutique hotels alone make Cartagena a top destination in Colombia

How to Get to Cartagena

You can fly direct to Cartagena from New York (5 hours) or Miami (3 hours).  Be sure to fill out the Colombia digital immigration form within 72 hours before your departure. 

From some other cities, like Washington DC or Atlanta, you can fly direct to Bogota and take a short connecting flight to Cartagena.  

Once you land, you’re only about a 15 minute drive from the center of Cartagena’s walled city. 

Colombia With Kids - Bocagrande

4 Reasons Cartagena Is Good For Families 

We can’t emphasize this enough: Cartagena is a fantastic family travel destination. The people welcome kids; the vibrant city has endless entertainment; and you get pools and beaches at your fingertips too.  

Here are our top four reason why Cartagena is a great choice for a family vacation. 

The Colors 

The buildings in the old city are a kaleidoscope of bright colors, providing a constant source of visual stimulation. Bright pops of color make it fun for kids to wander the streets and poke around the town’s shops with mom and dad. Cartagena’s walled city has street performers and art, horses , an amazing popsicle store, and a chocolate museum, all within the city’s small walkable center.  

Touring one of the Caribbean’s colorful cities should be on every family’s Caribbean bucket list, and we think Cartagena is the best of the best.  Just walking around the urban center is one of the best thing sto do in Cartagena with kids.

Watch the sunset from the top of the city wall, where you can enjoy a cocktail and your kids can dance to live music. Give in to your kids’ inevitable demands to take a horse drawn carriage ride through town in the evening and see the colors in a new light. (Enjoying a city through your kids’ eyes with an activity you might not otherwise have prioritized is a unique benefit of traveling with little ones.) 

The Welcoming And Family-Oriented People 

When traveling with kids, we can’t help but wonder: Will have to skip some of the more best activities (shopping, dining, nightlife, etc.) because they won’t be kid-friendly. 

Not in Cartagena.  

Almost every person we met went out of their way to make our daughter welcome, including at high end stores, restaurants, and hotels. I can confidently say this was one of the most family-friendly locations we’ve ever visited. 

The Stunning Boutique Hotels 

The Caribbean offers a wide range of accommodations, everything from large all-inclusive luxury resorts to charming small hotels. The boutique hotels in Cartagena’s old walled city provide an overnight experience unlike any other. Several 200+ year-old mansions in the walled city have been converted into unique, small hotels. These are truly the best kind of home-away-from-homes. They have gourmet restaurants, unique decor, pools to take a much-needed break from the heat, and spacious rooms.  

You Can Get City and Beach In One Trip

Cartagena offers the perfect balance between historic city and beach.  Cartagena’s old town is a UNESCO world heritage site, full of interesting architecture and sites like the San Pedro Claver cathedral, Plaza Santo Domingo square, and Castillo San Felipe fort. We also enjoyed wandering the Getsemani neighborhood with kids, as it’s full of colorful street art, street food, and has a contagious vibrant energy.  There are plenty of things in the city to keep families entertained. 

But eventually, all children (and perhaps many parents) will tire of wandering the streets of the walled city, especially in the heat. Luckily, its easy to plan a Cartagena, Colombia beach vacation. And it’s especially worth considering during Caribbean off-season (June to October) as Cartagena is not in the hurricane belt and will get less rain in summer and fall months than many tropical destinations.  

Depending on how much time you want to spend at the beach, you’ll have a few options for mapping out your Cartagena family vacation

You can spend an afternoon at the local beach area, Bocagrande.  

Or – better yet, in my opinion – take a day trip to Playa Blanca on Isla Baru, or to the nearby Rosario Islands. You can arrange to hire a private boat. Or, there are plenty of tour companies that offer beach daytrips. There are several beach clubs in either location that welcome daytrip visitors. 

Finally, our top recommendation: Split your trip. Spend a few days in Cartagena, and a few days in the a hotel on Isla Baru (our top choice for little kids) or the Rosario Island (better with older kids).  

Casa Claver Hotel For Colombia With Kids
Photo Courtesy of Casa Claver Boutique Hotel

What’s The Best Age for Visiting Cartagena With Kids? 

There are plenty of things to do in Cartagena with kids of all ages.  But it’s really worth highlighting that this is a perfect destination in many ways for parents with kids under 5.  

Many parents think they should hold off on more urban travel destinations until kids are a little older, for fear that the kids won’t have as much energy or enthusiasm for exploring a city. 

But Cartagena operates on a toddler schedule in many ways.  

First, the city is stiflingly hot in the afternoon. The small boutique hotels are inviting for a siesta, plus they all have refreshing pools. You won’t feel like you’re missing out on any fun if you have to retreat to the hotel for naptime. To the contrary, the afternoon siesta will give you the chance to enjoy your hotel and catch your own break from the heat. 

You can explore the city in the early mornings and evenings with the kids, and spend some time relaxing in the afternoons. Then, spend a few days at the beach with your toddler so everyone can chill out. 

For that reason, I wouldn’t hesitate to go to Cartagena with a toddler or baby. In fact, if you want a city vacation during your kids’ early years, this is one of the best destinations. 

Is Colombia Safe For Families?  

Yes, yes, yes. There may be unsafe parts of this corner of South American, but we never felt even a little bit unsafe on our trip to Cartagena with kids. The old walled city of Cartagena is touristy enough, and built up enough, the safety should not be a concern. If you stick to the well-trodden paths, you will not see signs of organized crime or gang violence that make people nervous when they think of Colombia. 

Keep your wits about you, and learn the lay of the land before you go.  But do not let safety concerns stop you from booking your flights for your Cartagena Colombia family vacation.  

What Neighborhood In Cartagena Is Best For Families? 

Many families choose to stay at larger, resort-style hotels in the Cartagena’s Bocagrande neighborhood — often compared to Miami Beaach. 

We think that’s a mistake. 

We strongly believe that the best family hotels in Cartagena, Colombia are in Old Town within the historic city walls, and in neighboring Getsemani.

Why? Cartagena’s vibrant walled city is where you want to be. And in the heat with kids, you’ll want to explore it in bite-sized chunks.  Bocagrande is a 15 minute cab ride away, which means packing  day bag and piling everyone into the car to go into town, uncertain how long the kids will last without a break.

If you stay in a boutique hotel in the walled city, on the other hand, you can pop out of your hotel for an hour at a time to explore. You won’t need to pack everything up to make sure you’re fully armed, and there’s no pressure to stay out for long if people get too hot.  And, if you get a babysitter in the evenings, your just steps away from Cartagena’s nightlife.

But what about a pool or beach – a staple with kids?  

All our recommended hotels in the walled city have pools, so you can relax in the hot afternoon sun. 

You should also absolutely plan to work some beach time into your trip. Or, spend a few days in Cartagena, then head to a hotel in the Rosario Islands or on the Baru Peninsula for some dedicated beach time. 

The 5 Best Places to Stay in Cartagena With Kids

Cartagena has so many wonderful hotel options for families. But because the walled city has so many boutique hotels, figuring out where to stay in Cartagena with kids can be a bit overwhelming.  And because the hotels are so small, the larger rooms suitable for families can book up quickly. 

So, we wanted to give you lots of great options.

We would be excited to stay at any one of these amazing family hotels in Cartagena on our next visit. 

Hotel with Pool in Cartagena with Kids
Photo courtesy of Casa San Agustin

1. Casa San Agustin

Casa San Agustin is one of our favorite hotels of all-time. 

A bold statement, I know.  

Part of the Leading Hotels of The World brand, Casa San Agustin it’s the total package – with or without kids. This mansion-turned-hotel has a central location, impeccable service, graceful, gilded design, comfortable beds, and a serene courtyard pool that’s big enough for kids to enjoy.

The rooms are spacious, so everyone can spread out, and there are lots of common areas for relaxing. And the restaurant, Alma, is one of the most popular in the city with its inviting décor and delicious food. 

Casa San Agustin is a luxury choice but, if you stay here with kids, you won’t regret it.

Mango Tree Travelers get exclusive Virtuoso amenities at Casa San Agustin, including: 

  • Daily breakast for two guests 
  • $100 resort credit 
  • Upgrade on arrival (subject to availability) 
  • Early check-in/late check-out (subject to availability)
Cartagena With Kids Hotel: Sofitel Santa Clara
Photo courtesy of Sofitel Legend Santa Clara

2. Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena 

If you prefer the familiarity of an international brand over a small, boutique hotel, this is the property for you. 

The iconic Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena is arguably the most popular hotel in Cartagena. 

This convent-turned-five-star-hotel has incredible style and character and offers luxury-level service and amenities. But there is no question that it welcomes families with open arms, offering childcare, kids’ menus at all the restaurants, and a large pool with a fantastic shallow end. 

More than any hotel on this list, the Sofitel strikes a balance between an urban hotel and a resort, as you could easily spend the day with your kids by the pool. It is absolutely one of the best family resorts in Cartagena Colombia.  

Mango Tree Travelers get exclusive VIP amenities at the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara, including: 

  • Daily breakast for two guests 
  • $100 resort credit 
  • Upgrade on arrival (subject to availability) 
  • Early check-in/late check-out (subject to availability)
Luxury Family Trip To Colombia
Photo courtesy of Bastion Hotel

3. Bastion Luxury Hotel

Bastion Luxury Hotel provides a great choice for families wanting an upscale, cosmopolitan vibe – it feels slightly more like a traditional hotel, but with old-world charm. It’s just around the corner from Casa San Agustin in Cartagena’s Old Time, with the city’s shops and energy at your fingertips. 

Bastion’s rooftop pool is among the best and most kid-friendly pools within the city walls, complete with a shallow end for kids. 

To top it all off, the breakfast buffet alone is worth the stay.

Rooftop pool at hotel Capellan
Photo courtesy of Hotel Capellan de Getsemani

4. Hotel Capellan De Getsemani

If you would rather stay in Williamsburg than Manhattan on a trip to New York, you would find yourself at home in the hip and artsy Getsemani neighborhood. You’ll be surrounded by art, street food, bistros and nightlife – and be just a short walk from the more refined walled city.

The 30-room Hotel Capellan de Getsemani has a two-bedroom family suite on the second floor, making it clear kids are welcome. 

The hotel’s rooftop feel emits a tropical vibe, complete with palm trees epic sunset views. No better place to spend the early evening hours while winding your kids down after a long day.

Boutique Family Hotel in Cartagena
Photo courtesy of Casa Claver

5. Casa Claver Loft Boutique Hotel

The coziest hotel in our recommended set, Casa Claver Loft Boutique Hotel has only 7 rooms, but nearly all of them are big enough to fit families. It too has a great location inside the city walls. The rooms are all simply decorated, and greenery in the common spaces will immediately create a sense of calm.

Some of the rooms offer mini-bars, kitchenettes, and private balconies to relax after the kids are asleep. The pools are small – but there are two! The rooftop pool offers city views, and the indoor courtyard pool a shady green retreat, making this a calming hotel choice for your Cartagena family vacation. 

Where to Stay Near Cartagena For A Beach Retreat

On our maiden Cartagena family vacation, we wanted to get out of the city for a few days of sand and sun. 

To do so, you can head to the Rosario Islands or to the Baru Peninsula — each about a 45 minute boat-ride from Cartagena. We went with the later and did not regret it.

Las Islas Caribbean Resort with Private Pools
Photo courtesy of Hotel Las Islas

Hotel Las Islas 

We spent two nights at the incredible Hotel Las Islas on Isla Baru. It was the ultimate treat, and we managed to totally unplug even with our 3-year old daughter along for the ride.  This is one of our favorite private pool resorts in the Caribbean and we’re dying to go back. 

Hotel Las Islas has 55 eco-bungalows, some up in the trees (not for kids) but others at ground level, with private plunge pools overlooking the ocean.

There’s nothing like  a thatched roof bungalow to make you and your kids feel like you’re on an jungle adventure. But even better when those bungalows have comfortable beds, private decks with cushy lounge chairs. 

Kids will love meandering around the property in golf carts.

The staff at Las Islas are attentive and courteous to little travelers, inviting them to respond in kind.  Don’t be surprised if children get a little gift or two – in addition to smiles – to make them feel welcome.


Frequently Asked Questions  

Compared to other cities in Colombia, Cartagena may be expensive. But compared to popular cities in other countries, and to top Caribbean destinations, Cartagena offers exceptional value for a luxury vacation.

The hotels we recommend are not budget hotels, but their amenities and luxury-level service truly stand out above other destinations we’ve visited.

Cartagena offers you a trip with cultural attractions, and tropical weather and beaches, at a fraction of the cost of many European or American destinations.

Yes. You can – and should – wander safely around Cartagena, in particular in the Old Town within the historic city walls.  

From the Old Town to Getsemani, which is outside the walls, it’s also only about a 10-minute walk.  

If you want to explore the beaches of Bocagrande, or the Castillo San Felipe fort, you’ll need to take a 15-minute taxi ride, which any of our recommended hotels can help you arrange. 

It depends on how much time you have! In 2 days, you could absolutely get a feel for the city, and see both the Old Town and Getseman, but you would leave wanting more. 

On our first trip to Cartagena with kids, we spent 3 nights in Cartagena, went to Isla Baru for 2 nights, and then back to Cartagena for 2 more nights on the back-end. We never got bored. 

On a return trip, having seen the city already, we would probably spend 2-3 days in Cartagena and then longer at the beach.

You can go to Cartagena any time of the year and have a wonderful trip.  Peak Season is December through April, like many Caribbean destinations, but the weather stays nice through September.  

Skip October and November if you wish to avoid the rainy season.

There you have it! Our ultimate overview to Cartagena with kids. We hope we’ve inspired you to plan your next family vacation!  

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